Saturday, July 30, 2011

Swedish UFO Crash

There has been, circulating on the Internet, a story that a crashed flying saucer has been found in 300 feet of water in the Gulf of Bothnia. That is, in the ocean between Finland and Sweden. It was found using sonar, which detected a circular object some 60 feet in diameter.

Peter Lindberg, a Swedish researcher (for ancient shipwrecks and the like but not UFOs), while searching for a 100-year-old wreck that might contain some rare champagne, found the circular object. Lindberg did not suggest it was a flying saucer. That has been left to Internet enthusiasts who decided that anything circular and that size must be a crashed flying saucer.

Lindberg himself did not make that suggestion but did say that in his 18 years as a professional he had never seen anything quite like this. That did not mean that it wasn’t a natural formation, something made by humans, or be an anomaly created by the rough ocean floor and the depth at which the circular object was found. In fact, it might not be as perfectly circular as some speculate simply because the sonar being used didn’t have the ability to discriminate precisely at that depth.

At this point there is absolutely no reason to suspect that this is an alien craft of some sort. Lindberg has said that he is not interested in further in investigations. While the recovery of an alien craft could potentially be worth billions of dollars, the more likely scenario is that this circular object on the bottom of the ocean is just that... a circular object that has no value at all.

This should be viewed as a cautionary tale. Only the shape, circular, suggests that this might be of alien origin, and that is highly speculative. The most likely explanation is something mundane. Since Lindberg is the man who found it, and since he sees nothing of value there, and in fact, did not suggest it was alien, we would be wise to listen. Yes, we need to keep an open mind but not one that is so open our brains fall out. With nothing else reported, without further information, the logical conclusion is in the mundane.

I hope this case will not be added to some of the extremely long lists of crashed saucers that float about on the Internet. It doesn’t belong there unless and until there is more and better information.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Corporal Pyles and the Roswell Skeptics

Here’s something that I don’t understand. In the rush to condemn all things Roswell, the debunkers often overlook glaring errors on the part of those UFO investigators they wish to believe. As a point in fact, we’ll take a look at what Karl Pflock wrote in his book, Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and a Will to Believe when he told his version of the story of Corporal E.L. Pyles.

But first, a look at what Don Schmitt and I had to say about Pyles in our book, The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell. I had written, “Fifteen miles southwest of the base, Corporal E. L. Pyles, on a detached facility, looked up to see what he thought at first was a shooting star, but larger. It moved across the sky and then arced downward. There seemed to be an orange glow around it, a halo near the front. Pyles believed the event took place between 11:00 p.m. and midnight because the lights at the facility were turned out after 10:30, and he would normally retire before midnight. He thought it was near the weekend, but couldn’t be sure of the exact day.”

Later in the book, in recapping the witnesses who had reported something in the sky, I wrote, “Corporal E. L. Pyles, southwest of Roswell, saw a falling star. He thought it was a falling star because it was ‘wrapped in orange.’ Like the others, he believed it happened just before midnight. It clearly was something large enough and bright enough to be seen thirty or forty miles away.”

Although we hadn’t actually assigned a date to this story, we do make it clear that we believed it happened in early July 1947 and given what we had been told by others, believed that the day was just before midnight on July 4.

Pflock, in his anti-alien Roswell book also reported that he had interviewed Pyles. According to Pflock, “I asked Pyles when this took place. He replied, ‘It was in forty-seven. I don’t remember the month or the date I saw it [emphasis in original]’ It seems it was summertime.’ I then asked him if he was on the main base, Roswell AAF, when he saw the ‘streak’. He said, ‘Yes, I was... I was walking across the drill field... there on the base... [with a] friend of mine... We both saw it.”

Now I freely admit this looks damaging for my research. We, meaning Don and I, had taken the story of a streak of light told by Pyles and put a date on it. It would seem that we were taking a story of a light in the night sky that could have been seen at almost any time in 1947 and placed it in a very narrow range without benefit of witness testimony and, in fact, in contradiction of what the witness told to Pflock. Pretty sloppy work, if that had been true.

But Pflock then wrote, “Next, I pursued the time of night the sighting occurred. Pyles said, ‘Well, it had to have been between, say, eight o’clock, probably... [and] eleven... [I couldn’t] pinpoint the time, but it was before midnight. I think we had been to the club, NCO club.’ A ‘few days later’ he saw the ‘RAAF Captures Flying Saucer’ story in the Roswell Daily Record, and he wondered if he and his friend had seen anything to do with it [reproduced here exactly as it appears in Pflock’s book, ellipses and all].”

So, after all the fussing around, and suggesting that Pyles couldn’t even give a month for the sighting and suggesting he barely remembered the year, he then provides a signpost in the available documentation. He said it was in the days prior to the newspaper article, or in other words, it could have been July 4 as we had suggested, and certainly was in that time frame according to what Pyles told Pflock. And we had pinpointed the time as prior to midnight, just as did Pyles in his conversation with Pflock.

What all this meant, in the long run, was that I was catching flack for misrepresenting the Pyles testimony when, in fact, what Pflock learned actually confirmed what we (and here I mean I) had reported. What I didn’t understand then, and what I don’t understand now, is why Pflock made a big deal out of Pyles not knowing when he saw the streak of light and a paragraph later limiting it to the first week in July. Didn’t anyone catch that inconsistency?

In fact, we have Pflock reporting that Pyles couldn’t even remember if it was summer (though he thought it might have been) but then saying that it was after eight and before midnight. Strange, selective memory, it would seem to me, though if you are reporting a light in the sky, it was probably after dark (well, dusk anyway).

Not to mention that no one seems to want to criticize Pflock for what might be an inaccuracy in his reporting. They all assume that he got it right without shading or manipulation and that I, along with Don, got it wrong.

This is the sort of trivia that has been going on for too many years. I now must defend my statements about the timing of Pyles sighting when it seems to me that anyone with any reading comprehension would understand that Pyles had confirmed, to Pflock, the timing of the event. He might not have been able to say July 4, but we, and here I do mean Don and me, had other information that suggested that date when we wrote our book.

In the end, what we see here is that Pyles confirmed the time frame for Pflock, but Pflock, for some reason didn’t seem to understand that Pyles put it in the first week in July. And the skeptics didn’t bother to question this. They just accepted the idea that we were wrong and Pflock was right, when it turned out that Pflock had, basically, confirmed what we had said.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Roswell Festival - A Brief Interview

While sitting at my table in the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, I heard a woman behind me say, “That was my father.” She was pointing to a picture of one of the soldiers assigned to the base in 1947.

I listened to her for a moment and then stood up to learn who she was and what she had been told.

Her name was Carlene Green (seen here pointing to her father's picture) who was the daughter of Sergeant Homer G. Rowlette, a member of the 603rd Air Engineering Squadron. And as established by the Yearbook produced by Walter Haut in 1947, he was clearly in Roswell at the right time.

According to what she said, she learned of her father’s part in the crash retrieval just days before he died. He was on a Gurney and about to be wheeled into an operating room when he asked her to come closer so that he could speak to her.

He told her that he had been at the base when the “spaceship” crashed and that he had seen it. He said that the craft was rounded and that he had seen three “little people,” and suggested that one of them had survived the crash.
He apologized for not telling her sooner but that he had told her brother the story sometime earlier. (The Yearbook picture of Sergeant Rowlette seen here).

Finally he cautioned her to keep it all to herself, or else.

This all happened in 1988, which is, of course, ten years after Jesse Marcel, Sr. told his story and eight years after the publication of The Roswell Incident. While the story of the Roswell crash wasn’t as well known then as it is today, there were television shows that touched on it, there were documentaries about it and some magazine articles that told of it. In other words, this information didn’t appear in the vacuum that existed prior to 1980.

And yes, this is another second-hand story. It would have been nice to find it prior to Rowlette’s death in 1988 but that didn’t happen. We are left with these tales and we each must decide how important they are to the overall case. It does provide some interesting details, some of which have been suggested by others, but in the end, it is still second hand.

At any rate, Carlene Green was a nice woman who took a few minutes to share with me the information her father had given her so long ago.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Crash of Philip J. Imbrogno

It has happened again in the world of the UFO. Another researcher, who talked of advanced degrees and of military service in the Special Forces has been found to have invented his background. Philip J. Imbrogno, who claimed a Ph. D. and service with the Army’s Green Berets had neither degree nor Special Forces training.

Lance Moody, who has appeared here in the past, wrote that he recently became interested in Imbrogna’s background and began a somewhat routine search to verify his credentials. Lance, on his web site at:

wrote, “Recently, I became interested in the claims of ‘respected’ UFO and paranormal author, Philip J. Imbrogno. Imbrogno has written many paranormal books. Perhaps his best known was the account of the Hudson Valley UFO sightings he co-authored with J. Allen Hynek.”

The information provided by Imbrogo on his web site claimed, “"Imbrogno holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics, astronomy and chemistry from the University of Texas and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2010 he was awarded a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from MIT. He is a staff member of the McCarthy Observatory in New Milford, Connecticut, and is a founder and former director of the Astronomical Society Of Greenwich, and former director of the Bowman Observatory."

As Moody noted, this suggested the Imbrogno, unlike so many others in the field, had a fine education and was a “real” scientist working in the paranormal arena. Radio show hosts often recited the information without bothering to check the validity of it (though I don’t really blame those hosts... they take the information supplied by the guest and because there are so many guests that it would be nearly impossible to check everything... besides, who would lie about something so easy to verify?).

Moody wrote, “A telephone conversation with the [MIT] office further determined that there has never been a student with the last name ‘Imbrogno’ attending classes at MIT. Wow. Can it really be that easy?”

The answer was, “Yes, it can be that easy.”

But Moody also received a written reply, which he published on his web site. No one by the name of Imbrogno had attended classes there. The registrar even checked on various spellings. Nothing.

Moody contacted Don Ecker of “Dark Matters” radio fame. Ecker said that he’d had Imbrogno on his radio show several times and when he and his wife, Vicki Ecker had been leading UFO, they’d published articles written by Imbrogno.

Ecker was somewhat skeptical of what Moody had found and cautioned that Moody had better be sure of his facts. I suggested the same thing. Be sure you’re right because you could cause yourself some real trouble.

But Moody had the goods. It made Ecker suspicious of Imbrogno. He wrote, “Then something else hit me. On the last two shows with Imbrogno he made a point of mentioning his ‘Viet Nam military service’ while a member of the U.S. Army’s elite Special Forces.”

This sent Ecker off in another direction. He began to investigate Imbrogno’s military claims. As with those from the academic world, Ecker was unable to verify that Imbrogno had ever served with the Army’s Special Forces.

Ecker sent a note to Imbrogno and a posted reply that sounded like Imbrogno that said, “One last thing Don, you are a great guy if you want my military record DD214. It will show I was a medic in the USAF and did a tour in indochina It might show I was attached to the army for a while I don't know when and where it was all pretty disorganized. I was part of a specialy trained group of medics (the first in line of what today is called a PA in medicine) Much more that a coreman [sic], more than a nurse, but less than a doctor. I was primarily stationed in Thailand, but was attached to a number of army units over the tour. I believe I was in every country in that area The hope was to increase the survival rate of the wounded getting aerovacted out. Get my DD214 it will show 90250 training... # I got punished and article 15 and had to run the VD clinic for a week.”

This answer is pretty disorganized and I’m not sure what to make of it. He is now suggesting he was a Air Force medic and was attached to the Army. While the Marines always use Navy “Corpsmen” (and wouldn’t he know how to spell it if he was a corpsman?) for their medics, the Army has had it’s own medics. It has no need to “borrow” them from the Air Force. And note that he has covered that by suggesting this service attached to the Army might not be reflected on his DD 214.

I’m not sure why Imbrogno doesn’t know what is on his DD 214. He should have received a copy when he left the service, and he would have been told that it was an important document. It is needed to apply for veteran’s benefits, some states use it to determine property tax reductions for veterans, and it is proof of military service.

Here’s where we are today. Imbrogno has dropped out of paranormal research, at least for the moment. One of his co-authors has severed her relation with him. He does not hold the academic honors he claimed and his military service was not with the Army’s Special Forces. He may or may not have served in Vietnam as a medic with the Air Force.

Don Ecker wrote, “As I was in the process of completing this report, no verification of Imbrogno serving in the U. S. Army’s Special Forces, much less MACV-SOG was found by the SF Association. Imbrogno offered no copies of his DD-214. (Military Separation documents.) Since this scandal broke he has with-drawn from paranormal research, changed his telephone number and gotten a new and covert email address. His former working partner, Ms. Rosemary E. Guiley has broken her working relationship from Imbrogno. The paranormal field has once again been given a huge black eye from another person that felt the need to lie … for whatever reason. Okay, this has happened in the past and will undoubtedly happen in the future. But there is more here than meets the eye if you stop to think about it.”

As Ecker suggested, this is just another black eye for the field. We have had a large number of these problems in the last few years and I suspect we’ll have more in the future. What we need to do is be sure that the people who have come forward to tell their tales and those who investigate them are who they claim to be. In today’s world it is very easy to verify claims and we should be doing so. It won’t stop this endless parade of fakers and phonies but it will limit the damage they cause. It will also mean that we can stop wasting our time and get on with the work that needs to be done.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Roswell Festival

Yes, I have returned from Roswell, my first visit there in nearly fifteen years. The town has grown quite a bit and it is surprising the number of new, top line hotels, franchise operations and the improvements to the city. The UFO business has been very good.

The UFO Festival, held over the Fourth of July weekend, which is the anniversary of the crash so many years ago, is a well planned and well executed event. The speakers and presenters cover the range of those inside the UFO field from abductees and abduction researchers, to UFO investigators to those who have had some kind of spectacular UFO sighting. And this doesn’t even mention the TV and movie stars who attended including Roy Thinnes of The Invaders (in color).

I arrived in mid-afternoon on Friday and found my table, in the museum where I could attempt to sell a few books and DVDs. I was paired with Robert Salas of the nuclear weapons intrusion fame. He is a retired government employee who served in the Air Force as a captain (but then who didn’t... which is just my way of saying that I had once been a captain in the Air Force, too).

The next day I managed to offend him but in this case actually proves the adage that no good deed goes unpunished. I had been joking with those circulating through the area, talking with them and not really pushing the books. A couple of people had asked the prices and I was explaining the charges and pointed at Salas’ single book to give the price.

He snapped, “I’m getting really tired of that.”

I thought it a somewhat unprofessional thing to say in front of those people but let it slide until they had moved on and we had a momentary break. I said that I had just been trying to help by directing their attention to his book, but he said that he didn’t need my help.

About thirty minutes later I went to lunch and when I came back, I was preparing for my presentation. I kiddingly said a couple of things (though I was sort of annoyed at his earlier outburst) about what had happened. When I returned from the presentation he’d taken his books and found another location, which meant I had the table to myself. That was fine with me.

Of course, while I was interviewing a very nice woman about her involvement with the Roswell crash, Salas was quick to join our private conversation and take over. Some of the questions he asked were those that I wanted to ask anyway, but he did just butt in. I said nothing to him about that, either in front of the woman or after she was on her way.

Salas, it seems, likes to be the center of attention. I had unknowingly taken that from him as I talked to those who had come to our table. But then, it is also true that some people have no sense of humor... and mine is sometimes a little over developed.

Anyway, I gave my presentations (there were two of them) without interruption or trouble (other than kicking the power cord out of the computer so it went into hibernation mode.) We got that fixed in minutes and I went right back into the presentation.

The museum had multiple presentations going on from nine to five or six but the highlight might have been the Roswell researchers panel held on Saturday night. Stan Friedman, Tom Carey, Don Schmitt, Frank Kimbler and I shared the stage talking about how we had been dragged into the Roswell investigations. (The people from the left are Kimbler, me, Schmitt, Carey and Friedman. Photo courtesy of Alejandro Rojas at

The room was packed and there were people standing outside on the sidewalk waiting for an opportunity to get in. We all talked about how we became involved in the case and some of the side, often funny experiences we’d had in working the case.

Frank Kimbler told of his experiences in using a metal detector and other search techniques in an attempt to locate anything left over from the crash in 1947. I mention this only because people are always asking if we have ever attempted that and the answer was “Yes.” Included in that were archaeological site survey techniques and other accepted practices in an attempt to locate material of significance.

I provided a number of programs on my experiences as a UFO investigator going back to my high school years. At that time, when I interviewed my first witness, I had but one question that was important to me. I asked her if the object had been distinct or if it had been fuzzy. She told me it was about 200 feet over the barn and it looked quite solid.

By Monday, I was getting worn out. Right next to me was display that included the Headline Edition of ABC News which was a report on the UFO crash. It started with a number of loud beeps and never quieted down. It seemed to me that the moment it ended, someone else would push the button and it would start all over again.

That’s not to mention a rather impressive flying saucer display that went off with a roar every fifteen minutes or so, complete with smoke pouring out the bottom. That was a conversation stopper but it was also becoming tiring after three days of watching it.

Tom Carey and I went to lunch Monday (early because I was getting tired) and then, because of a report of something (alien bodies to be precise) buried on the outskirts of town, we went to look for that. The story was that we would find to headstones near a wall. It took us about fifteen minutes to find the location and then another fifteen to find the stones. Later, with digging equipment (read shovels here) others went out, but they found nothing alien buried.

No, I didn’t go to some of the other venues. There were all sorts of vendors selling everything from T-shirts to cold drinks. There were some tours and space related exhibits, but I spent most my time in the museum.

I did have breakfast every morning with Roy Thinnes (seen here), which was interesting and we went to dinner one night. That included Tom Carey and Don Schmitt. Other nights the three of us, Carey, Schmitt and I went to dinner without Thinnes (the Golden Corral if you must know because they have a very nice salad bar, vegetable bar and desert bar.)

I did talk to Stan Friedman on a couple of occasions. He made it clear that he believed that Robert Willingham was being less than candid about his UFO experiences, but that didn’t affect the MJ-12 papers. Carey wondered why he would bring that up one morning and I told him about Willingham being the only witness to the Del Rio UFO crash (and there will be more on this in a later posting).

Monday night there was a very nice little dinner in the museum for those of us who had done programs and for the staff who had worked so hard to make the Festival a success. The people behind the scenes, who make sure the rooms are cleaned, the equipment is in place and working, that the gift shop is manned, that the guests (meaning not only the speakers but all those who came to learn a little more about UFOs) were helped as needed, and that a thousand other little things were ready, were there to mingle with the rest of us. I hesitated too long and only managed to get one slice of pizza, but it was a good slice.

I blew out of town early on Tuesday morning for the long drive home. I hit no storms (and was told it hadn’t rained in Roswell since October), but did pass one SUV that was engulfed in flames. No one had been hurt and the ambulances and fire trucks were near so they had all the help they needed.

For me, and I sure for many others, the Festival was well worthwhile. I met some nice people, renewed a couple of old friendships, and wasn’t at all surprised that Travis Walton didn’t even say “Hi,” back to me. He had obviously read The Abduction Enigma and probably wasn’t too happy with our take on alien abduction.

Julie Shuster (seen here) has done a fine job of keeping her father’s vision of the museum alive. Walter Haut had told me long ago that he wanted to encompass everything in the UFO field, not just a narrow niche of Roswell or crash retrievals. He wanted all points of view covered, even those with which he might have disagreed including those of the skeptics. The museum reflects that vision. It covers quite a bit, even those things with which I disagree but that’s what makes this a good museum. It’s not just the one point of view, but many.